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Monash U partnership with Woodside wins award from Australian financial publication

By David Schwartz
Published: November 16th, 2021

Monash University has won first place in the Industry Engagement category of the Australian Financial Review (AFR) Higher Education Awards. The partnership with energy giant Woodside is the largest single industry-academia partnership in Australia, already totaling AUD $66.5 million (nearly $49M US).

The partnership was selected as an exemplar of a sustainable, beneficial, impactful and scalable relationship between academia and industry.

Professor Maria Garcia de la Banda, co-chair of the Monash-Woodside FutureLab, says what started as a philanthropy has grown into an innovative strategic partnership, which is now focused on help Australia transition to clean energy.

The partnership involves two key technology sectors — manufacturing, IT and data is one, while the other sector involves helping Australia become a clean energy leader.

The FutureLab they partner within allows Woodside and Monash researchers to “look around corners” and try to find solutions for the future, using a “fail-fast” mentality that provides the freedom to explore new ideas without fear.

Professor Paul Webley, director of the Woodside Monash Energy Partnership, says while the FutureLab remains philanthropic, the energy partnership is slightly more formal.

“Monash and Woodside define and create the projects in consultation with each other,” he says, noting that the partnership is far beyond transactional. “They’re not paying us so that we can do work and give them the results and then go away. This is a partnership between two organizations; we’re sharing in the creation of the project and we’re sharing in the rewards of the outcome,” Webley says.

One example is focused on hydrogen energy. “The whole point of using hydrogen it is to reduce carbon emissions, so we’ve launched a program with Woodside to develop a very comprehensive model that allows us to say, ‘for this scenario of making hydrogen, this is what the carbon intensity is. This is how many kilograms of carbon you emitted by producing one kilogram of hydrogen.’”

Garcia de la Banda see the partnership as very important on different levels. “It has many unexpected benefits, both for Woodside and for Monash including much stronger collaboration between the faculties here at the university. It allows us to really push the limits of the technology we have and develop solutions for real problems on both sides,” she says.

In addition, she adds, “the opportunities for students are enormous through projects and summer internships, and we can go to Woodside’s operations and stay there for a long time. It’s long-term and we now have a much better understanding of how to collaborate with a big company.”

Source: The Australian Financial Review

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

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